There are thousands of articles by experts and pediatrics giving advice on the most important factors that we need to account when facing the purchase of little shoes for our toddlers. For those moments when barefoot is not an option, we have summarized these many opinions in 5 facts that can help you make the best choice.
1 - Not all feet are exactly the same. Children can have wider feet, wider or longer toes, or walk and step in many different ways that will affect the shape of their little feet (some like to stand on tiptoes, like our daughter Carlota). It is import to watch your children’s feet closely and review their growth and heath periodically with our family physician, in order to detect any problem or specific characteristic that you need to consider in the choice of the appropriate footwear. When talking about toddlers and shoes for toddlers this is especially important, as they are learning to walk so providing shoes where their growing little feet fit is esencial not only for their comfort but also for a healthy development.
2 - Shoes should adapt to their little feet, not the opposite. This might sound obvious but we many times forget about it. Make the simple test of outlining the shape of your toddler's feet and then put any of your toddler's shoes over the drawing. You might be surprise about how many times the lines on the paper are visibly beyond the shape of the shoe (the upper part included), which as you might imagine is a proof of how their little feet are tighter inside than they should.
3 - Child’s feet grow. So toes should also be able to move as freely as possible. This is especially important for growing feet. Allowing extra-space for toes to move is a must in any type of shoes that our children wear. Again this factor is especially importante with toddlers, as their feet grow really fast, and we should carefully watch how our toddler's shoes fit. We should always avoid shoes that are too tight around the toes. A good option is to find shoes that can be tight properly so they are not loose, but that, at the same time, allow enough extra room inside for toes to move and grow. We should review our child’s size frequently, at lest once every two or there months.
4 - Flexible is always good, and soles need to be protective as well. We have read tons of opinions that favor flexible soles over more rigid ones. The more flexible the sole the more natural the movement for toddler's feet when walking and running. Again this is a really important factor. As parents we sometimes consider durability before flexibility, but there should be a balance between both. We can always find shoes that are light and flexible while they can last and stay for quite some time with us.
If soles are flexible feet move more freely as well. Ultra thin and light soles can nevertheless be less protective to temperature of the ground. There are many non-organic materials widely used in the footwear industry to make really light soles, but organic fibers can also be a good option.
5 - The more natural the better. Natural fibers and a reduced use of chemicals will provide a more gentle experience to our child’s sensitive skin. Besides, natural materials are less harmful to our fragile environment and there is a growing global consciousness on the importance of following sustainable manufacturing process and practices in such an important industry, that indeed has a relevant impact to our society.